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Brahms - Four Hand Piano Music, Vol 10


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Product details

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (5 Jan. 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000ZKY0Q
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 389,121 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. 1. Movement 1
2. 2. Movement 2
3. 3. Movement 3
4. 4. Movement 4
5. String Quartet In A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2 - Johannes Brahms

Product Description

NAX 8557056; NAXOS - Germania; Classica da camera Quintetto archi

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 July 2004
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps because I was a pianist, not a string player, I've been a huge fan of this continuing series of recordings of Brahms music arranged by the composer for four-hands at one piano featuring the piano duet team of Silke-Thora Matthies and Christian Kohn. (But I am not uniformly a fan of piano transcriptions: my enjoyment did not extend to a recent Naxos release of Stravinsky's 'Firebird' in the composer's own transcription for solo piano.) The only clunker up to now, as far as I'm concerned, was the 'German Requiem,' primarily because one really does miss the vocal soloists and choir. But I was a little bit leery about how it would go when this series reached Brahms's chamber music - up to now it's been arrangements of orchestral music in the series - but I needn't have worried. Indeed, I think this release, number ten in the series, may be the best yet.
This CD contains the four-hand arrangements of the two Opus 51 String Quartets. Not having seen the scores for the piano duet arrangements I had wondered if Brahms added to what is essentially a four-voice texture. After hearing the recording I can assert that he added very little except for some octave doublings in the bass to strengthen the texture and some tremolos in the upper voices in order to convey what otherwise, on the piano, would be thunks rather than sustained string chords. Where they are added they contribute to the sound but they are hardly noticeable after one gets used to them. Brahms clearly knew what he was doing.
What IS noticeable is how clear the piano-sound makes both the almost constant polyphony and frequent counterrhythms.
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Format: Audio CD
New light is thrown here on the first quartet in particular. This is a wonderfully dramatic and original work, and this version is fully worthy of it. As useful to the Brahmsian as the four hand version of the piano quintet which Brahms actually gave a separate opus number to. Excellent playing here of both quartets.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Volume 10 in an Absolutely Superb Brahms Four-Hand Series 18 Mar. 2004
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps because I was a pianist, not a string player, I've been a huge fan of this continuing series of recordings of Brahms music arranged by the composer for four-hands at one piano featuring the piano duet team of Silke-Thora Matthies and Christian Kohn. (But I am not uniformly a fan of piano transcriptions: my enjoyment did not extend to a recent Naxos release of Stravinsky's 'Firebird' in the composer's own transcription for solo piano.) The only clunker up to now, as far as I'm concerned, was the 'German Requiem,' primarily because one really does miss the vocal soloists and choir. But I was a little bit leery about how it would go when this series reached Brahms's chamber music - up to now it's been arrangements of orchestral music in the series - but I needn't have worried. Indeed, I think this release, number ten in the series, may be the best yet.
This CD contains the four-hand arrangements of the two Opus 51 String Quartets. Not having seen the scores for the piano duet arrangements I had wondered if Brahms added to what is essentially a four-voice texture. After hearing the recording I can assert that he added very little except for some octave doublings in the bass to strengthen the texture and some tremolos in the upper voices in order to convey what otherwise, on the piano, would be thunks rather than sustained string chords. Where they are added they contribute to the sound but they are hardly noticeable after one gets used to them. Brahms clearly knew what he was doing.
What IS noticeable is how clear the piano-sound makes both the almost constant polyphony and frequent counterrhythms. In fact, in the first movement of the Second Quartet, which abounds in both of those features, one often loses, in string quartet performances, the gist of the counterpoint as well as rhythmic clarity due to the frequent and confusing voice-crossing four-against-three-against-two passages. Even very good quartets sometimes get mired in the congested texture and the metric complications. That doesn't happen here because of the slight percussive quality of piano tone. A viola-playing friend commented that this piano duet version would be helpful in coaching young quartets here, because it would help them hear what is supposed to come out in these passages. An interesting observation, I think. Finally I am astounded to find that I actually prefer the fourth movement of the Second Quartet in the piano-duet version. See what you think.
I need not comment about the superb musicianship of this piano duet team. They are beyond praise. And since they seem now about to embark on the piano-duet versions of the chamber music I expect we can anticipate further enjoyment.
So, if you've enjoyed this series up to now, prepare to be very pleased again and, with me, to anticipate future chamber music transcriptions. Thank you, Naxos, for this brilliant series so brilliantly conceived, performed and recorded.
TT=69:02
Scott Morrison
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sumptuous Brahms 29 Nov. 2006
By Hexameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A little disclaimer for the reader of this review: I've not heard any of these works on this CD in their original form. Before exploring the Naxos Four Hand Series, I had not heard any orchestral/chamber work from Brahms except the Variations on Haydn and a few Hungarian Dances. I'm on an outlandish and rare path of exposing myself to Brahms exclusively through Naxos' Four Hand Piano series. My first taste was the German Requiem for Four Hands, and I was breathless. I still feel stunned by Brahms's music.

I must apologize because I cannot inform the Brahms lovers out there how these four hand arrangements measure up to the original string quartets. I'm sure there's many shades of colors and beautiful subtleties that cannot be transferred to the piano. And I cannot comment, like Mr. Morrison below me about the differences. However, I can speak from a pianophile's point of view that this music is in a class of its own on the piano. As a fledgeling Brahmsian, I can also say that these arrangements of the quartets are just as graceful and first-rate as the music in the previous volumes of this series. Brahms's music always works on the piano, whether it's the German Requiem, the Symphony No. 4, or these magnificent String Quartets, Brahms can always infuse his arrangements with power and immaculate clarity. His arrangements can all be heard as if they were an original piano composition. In my view, these arrangements should not be compared to the original at all; they are musically efficacious and quite worthy on the piano, and that's all that matters here.

The first String Quartet in C minor is bursting with drama and Beethovenian splendor. Pianistically, the first movement is a powerhouse. This piano duo combines an impassioned interpretation with a supreme mastery of dynamics. The musical content is just pure Brahms: noble, beautiful, introspective, and brimming with agreeable thematic development. The second movement is a stream of tenderness on the piano. With gorgeous harmonies and fluid phrases, it sounds like it could be a fine second movement of a piano sonata. The mood of the third movement seems connected to the second, but is richer in melody and the little allegretto theme is a wonderful invention from Brahms. Although the entire movement seems like it's played in pp, the piano duo play with an unstable touch, like they could just explode into brilliant passage works at any moment. This never happens until the fourth movement, where the fire from the first movement is rekindled. Brahms conveys a seemingly infinite amount of ideas. The music itself sounds intense, heroic, and magnificent enough to be a movement from a grand sonata. Whatever the original string quartet movement sounds like, the piano duo has given me enough satisfaction with such a full-blooded and animated execution.

The second String Quartet in A minor is another high-quality creation from Brahms. Even lacking the aural experience of the original version, I think the music is so tremendous and feel that the piano arrangement imbues it with clarity and dynamism. The first movement is one of those furious allegro's that swells with fervor. Both the first and second theme are exemplary opposites of tension and release. The power and rapture of these themes are expressed with such sensitivity: at once, the duo is in the midst of a turbulent brio and then a second later they whisper to one another. Can a string ensemble really match this? The second movement is another example: extreme quiet and pensive reflections with a few splices of fortissimo moments. Phrases of somber beauty abound here and this kind of andante is well-suited for the piano, in my opinion. The last two movements are grand tapestries of music. The counterpoint, as Morrison said below me, is never marred but rather unveiled. These movements are sheer polyphonic tour-de-forces and Brahms surprises me yet again with his incredible and infinite pools of musical ideas.

Bottom line: For those already aware of the high-caliber works featured here from Brahms, I'm sure I preach to the choir. However, I do this while also expressing my enthusiasm for this piano duo and why I think the piano performance of these works should be enjoyed. This kind of music, as I said, is perfect for the piano. Not only does it sound great in the sonorous and sparkling registers of the keyboard, but it sounds completely unhindered and clear. I might even be so bold as to suggest that the intimacy of the string quartet has been successfully rivaled here. Highly recommended.
Wonderful Transformations 26 Mar. 2014
By J. R. Trtek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I have enjoyed most of the discs in this series that I've sampled, with a couple of exceptions, and this one goes up near the top. Brahms' transcription of these two string quartets into compositions for piano four hands is nothing less than a breath-taking transformation of both pieces. The first reviewer here has outlined some technical steps that Brahms took in shifting the works to the keyboard, steps which I as a pure layman don't understand. I do know what I hear, however, and these renditions yield an entirely new perspective on the pieces. Highly recommended.
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